What are Gluten-Free Diets really doing?

Salvador Martinez, Photojournalist

Growing rates of health-conscious families are going gluten free, even if they do not suffer with celiac disease. But new information shows that gluten-free foods can increase your risk for other diseases not intended. Two studies by US researchers revealed that people following gluten-free diets have twice as much arsenic in their urine (pee) as those who eat gluten as a normal average person. They shown to have 70% more mercury in their blood and worryingly high standards of other metals such as lead and cadmium, which leads to poisoning in the body.


Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago took note that rice flour may contain higher remains of toxic metals than wheat flour, rye, and barley – gluten-containing grains avoided by those who can’t tolerate or take the protein in those foods. The toxic materials can get into the rice through fertilizers, soil, water, etc. According to researchers, the accumulation of these toxic metals can increase the risk of cancer, heart disease, and neurological illness. They have also mentioned the findings point to the need for consumers to choose foods that are grown organically or produced with the lowest standards of agricultural chemicals.


Rice is already known to contain high standards of arsenic and parents have been warned against giving young children rice milk as a substitute for cows’ milk because of the dangers already known. Repeated consumption of gluten-free products have also been seen to be linked with skin lesions, weight loss, high blood pressure, muscle wasting, diabetes, etc. Gluten is a protein found in barley, rye and wheat. Food products that are gluten-free tend to be made with rice flour rather than wheat flour. Rice can bioaccumulate some toxic metals like mercury and arsenic. This accumulation occurs as a result of exposure to metal-laden fertilizers, water and soil. Though little is known about the ramifications of a diet that is high in rice, it is widely known that toxic metals are terrible for human health and daily lifestyle.


A student, Amber Li (10) says “My Pastor at my church is on a gluten-free diet, so far… It’s done for bad than good, thanks to that he had to retire due to this new pain.” Based on the issues gluten-free diets can have, it is shown that a solution to a problem could have some side-effects. An estimate of 25% of Americans went gluten-free in the year 2015. This is about a 2/3 increase since two years prior. Going gluten-free makes sense for those with celiac disease as gluten induces a chaotic immune response. Many others have determined that they feel better refraining from eating gluten for various physical, mental and emotional reasons.